New System Also Reduces Flight Delays and Cancelled Flights
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Oakland International Airport
Rosemary Barnes (510) 563-2892
Cyndy Johnson (510) 563-2820 After Hours (510) 563-3360
Advanced Airport Equipment (ALSTOM)
Jack Hart (731) 512-1100
Oakland, CA, March 31, 2003 Low visibility and fog conditions
can make it more challenging for pilots to operate at airports and for Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic controllers to guide them. Additionally,
decreased visibility may cause flight delays, cancelled flights and lead to
The U.K.-based ALSTOM - Airports recently installed Oakland International Airports
Surface Movement Guidance Control System (SMGCS), improving the ability of controllers
to guide aircraft ground operations. Additionally, SMGCS enhances pilots
ability to operate between the runway and aircraft parking during periods of
low visibility, reducing the possibility of runway incursions.
SMGCS allows air traffic controllers to provide guided assistance to aircraft
operating on the ground to and from the airports 10,000-foot commercial
runway and parking areas through a system of runway and taxiway lighting and
pavement markings. From their 10-story tower, a state-of-the-art computer monitor
allows controllers to more precisely guide aircraft with illuminated pavement
directions in conjunction with verbal instructions. Pilots benefit as they can
navigate better in low visibility conditions by recognizing and avoiding runways
and runway safety areas for which they have not received controller approval
The FAA requires installation of SMGCS at all U.S. airports that need to maintain
commercial aircraft operations when visibility is at or below 1,200 feet. On
average, Oakland International Airport experiences 15 of these low visibility
days per year.
With the recent installation of SMGCS, more aircraft can operate when visibility
is as low as 600 feet. SMGCS required installation of red, yellow and green
in-pavement lights and pink, white and black painted markings at critical taxiway
and runway junctions, and will be used in conjunction with preexisting airfield
lighting, signage and painted markings.
Traveler safety and security is our number one priority, said Steven
J. Grossman, director of aviation for the Port of Oakland, which operates the
airport. The new SMGCS installation is just another way to ensure Oakland
International Airports already exemplary safety record. In addition, SMGCS
will help improve the airports on-time arrival and departure record and
reduce the possibility of cancelled flights, improving the service we provide
to our customers.
This $3 million system was partially funded by the federally-monitored Airport
Improvement Program (AIP), a grant program that provides for capital improvements
at airports and is funded through taxes from passenger tickets and aviation
fuel. Additional funding came from the $3 passenger facility charge (PFC) levied
on the tickets of all departing passengers.
The SMGCS installation at Oakland International Airport is part of a future
enhanced program. The FAA plans to install a ground radar system at Oakland
that, when complemented with SMGCS, will allow aircraft to operate when visibility
is as low as 300 feet.
Oakland is the first airport in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of the first
10 in the U.S. to install full-scale SMGCS. Other installations are in Denver,
Los Angeles, Miami, Salt Lake City and Seattle.
ALSTOM - Airports provided state-of-the-art software and hardware for
the project, making Oakland the first U.S. airport to have successful commissioning
and acceptance of their SmartControl system. CH2MHill provided engineering
consultation and Rosendin Electric performed the electrical installation.
Bucking national trends, passenger traffic at Oakland International Airport
had double-digit growth in 2002, up 11.5 percent over the previous year to 12,723,777
passengers, despite the continuing weak economy and a severe downturn in the
aviation industry financial picture. This was the first time in the airports
75-year history that it averaged a million passengers a month.
Oakland International Airport has 200 flights a day on 14 domestic and international
carriers to 38 nonstop destinations, including Atlanta, New York, Washington,
D.C., the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica (service begins May 2003).
The airport is a revenue division of the
Port of Oakland, an independent department of the city of Oakland. For information
on alternative transportation to/from the airport, call 1-888-IFLYOAK (435-9625).
Once at the airport, motorists can tune to 1700 AM for current airport
traffic, parking and security information. Visit www.oaklandairport.com for
VISUAL OPPORTUNITY: Through prior arrangement with FAA officials, media
may observe the SMGCS lighting system from the eighth floor public Tower Lounge
located in Terminal One. Due to increased security measures, media will not
be permitted access to the FAA control tower. Media may find it more effective
to observe the new airfield lighting system between sunset and sunrise. Please
contact airport media relations staff to coordinate.